In some downtown bars, bartenders are making minimum wage — which still is $3.35 an hour for those jobs. That’s why there are some new standards for tipping, especially given the stress of the pandemic on service workers. Here’s a snippet of a conversation between City Cast Boise host Emma Arnold and local bartender and comedian Norelle Bond.
Q: What are you hearing from other bartenders in town?
A: Right now, I know a lot of bartenders in downtown Boise are particularly frustrated with the city. The way the construction is happening, it’s such a short radius of blocks downtown and it’s blocking streets and parking in multiple locations. I know that that’s an issue that has been frustrating a lot of downtown bartenders.
Q: During COVID, a lot of veteran service workers called it quits because of customer behavior. Have people improved?
A: It has, slightly. In Boise, there tends to be some complaints about our population growth, but I’ve actually heard from bartenders that people are bringing the polite manners that they’ve learned in other places to downtown Boise when they’re going out. Which is really nice, especially when it comes to things like tipping.
Q: Does Boise tip well?
A: Yes and no. I’d say overall Boise tends to be very generous, but there are still some people, particularly in generations that were used to tipping 10% or 15% in the 90s, that don’t consistently tip the standard 20%. Twenty percent is the standard, not because of service, but because in the state of Idaho, making up for the fact that employers only have to pay $3.35 an hour, that should be the standard: 20% everywhere you go, no matter how the service is. People still have to pay their bills. Going out is a privileged thing to do, and it should be the expectation that tipping is built into the budget when you’re going out to a bar.